Friday, December 3, 2010

Albany Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair, Nov. 28, 2010

Last week I hopped on over to the 36th Annual Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany. I hadn't attended the Fair in many years and was pleased to see so many colleagues and new book buddies busily chatting up their books, prints and paper items with a steady crowd, despite the fact that the Fair was scheduled on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, a time when many prospective book buyers might be on the road visiting family.

My colleague Peter Luke of New Baltimore, NY, was in attendance. Peter often frequents our shop looking for Americana and ephemera and had a wonderful book of 19th century color lithograph fruits and vegetables on display.

Cooperstown, NY bookseller Will Monie was on hand with his delightful wife, and they were doing a brisk business selling and buying books at the Fair. Will Monie Books naturally specializes in books and other items about baseball, though both his open shop and online bookstore carry a wide range of titles. (Pardon my fuzzy photo, this cute couple looks much sharper in person).

My next stop was to the unnecessarily camera-shy booth of Lyrical Ballad Bookstore sellers John and Jan DeMarco. They reported that they had been doing a brisk business at the Albany Fair and had just gotten back from a successful Boston Book Fair as well. The Lyrical Ballad booth had some gorgeous books on display, and you can see that they were catching the attention of several other book browsers.

Richard Mori of Mori Books in New Hampshire was doing his best Kilroy Was Here impression for me. Richard's a delightfully enthusiastic colleague who had a gorgeous display of children's books, illustrated books and paper items. Here he is below with two great finds that he purchased at the Albany Fair from another dealer, signed copies of Alice M. Brock's books "My Life as a Restaurant" and "The Alice's Restaurant Cookbook".

And here's Richard again with another gorgeous Albany Book Fair acquisition, a Folio-sized 1849 volume, "The Rhododendrons of Himalayan Sikkim", by J.D. Hooker, festooned with gorgeous hand-colored illustrations of the flowering plants.

And finally, we see my neighbor and book colleague, Edie Brown of Owl Pen Books in Greenwich, New York. Edie's in profile in the photo below and yours truly is wearing the fuzzy burgundy jacket. Owl Pen Books has two barns chock full of great books nestled deep in the hill country of Washington County. You should check them out when they are open again May 1, 2011.

I had a great time browsing the beautiful books on display and found a few treasures for myself and for the shop on my visit. Will be back next year for sure!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Art at the Albany Airport

It was alternately delightful and maddening to see some artwork made from books when I was recently at the Albany (International!) Airport. "The Imaged Word" exhibition is currently on display in third floor Airport Gallery until January 9, 2011 and can be viewed daily from 7 am to 11 pm.

There were some cool paintings modeled after vintage paperback covers...

And this obsolete reference volume hanging with its guts falling out over the gallery staircase...

This photograph of artfully arranged antique schoolbooks made me wince.
And made my spine hurt.

This artwork of beetle and scorpion cut out from otherwise undamaged and still relevant photography seemed like wanton destruction of two good books. There are certainly many other crappier books that could have been sacrificed to the insect art gods.

Phrases from a poem adorned the surfaces of these decorative objects.

A book arch of unjacketed books by Aaron T. Stephan, entitled "Building Bridges", was fun to inspect up close. I couldn't make out any of the titles as no spines were facing out. This certainly takes the wind out of my sails about my sometime-in-the-future project to construct something similar out of the 50+ copies of Robert James Waller's overpublished bestseller "The Bridges of Madison County" that reside in a corner of our store basement.

Artists in "The Imaged Word" exhibit include Fern Apfel, Gabe Brown, Gayle Johnson, Paul Katz, Scott McCarney, Amy Podmore, Fawn Potash, William Ransom, Aaron T. Stephan, Robert The, and Barbara Todd. It's well worth checking out the exhibition if you find you are waiting for a delayed flight. The Airport Gallery is on the public side of the terminal, soif you are a passenger you would need to inspect it before you take off your shoes and get super-scanned by airport security.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chronicle Autumn Leaves Book Fair 2010

Tethered as we are to our open shop, most weekend book fairs and festivals can't pry us away, but this year I was determined to participate in The Chronicle's Autumn Leaves Book Fair in nearby Glens Falls which took place this past Sunday, November 7th.

I had heard so many positive things from customers and book folk about how the Book Fair had really grown and had such a diversity of local authors, publishers, booksellers (including our favorite independent new bookseller, Red Fox Books) and other participants and the reality met my expectations. There was a nice crowd in attendance, lots of readings and demonstrations by Book Fair participants and the Chronicle and hotel staff were lovely to work with. There were some stellar authors participating in the Book Fair too, including Joseph and Jesse Bruchac, David Pitkin, Bruce Hiscock, Joseph Peck (a Schuylerville fave!), and James H. Kunstler.

Husband Dan manned the bookstore while my teenage daughter/book slave and I packed up a small percentage of our books and sallied forth to the lovely and historic Queensbury Hotel to set up early Sunday morning. Amazingly, I was able to stuff six folding wooden bookshelves, twelve milk crates full of books and a few boxes of assorted supplies* into the back of my antiquarian Jeep Cherokee and we spread out our wares.

This was my first experience selling books outside the shop but I thought regional authors and history would sell well (they were actually our "midlist" sellers). I also packed up a smattering of art, music, cookbooks, children's books, some novels and an assortment of non-fiction. At the last minute I popped in several books on hot air balloons because of the popularity of the Adirondack Balloon festival and they sold out. Next time I would obviously bring more ballooning books (and maybe some planes, trains and automobiles) and would bring more older children's books and books about art, music and popular culture, as these were strong sellers.

I would also bring fewer books, but face more out, as they disappeared at a much more rapid rate. My lumbar region would have thanked me had I refrained from filling the bottom two shelves of each wooden bookshelf. Nobody even noticed any book that was below waist-level anyway.

And next year I would bring a big sign with "Old Saratoga Books, Used and Rare Books" on it to pin to that big white space in front of our table or display prominently. The bookmarks and pamphlets didn't grab people's attention readily and I was constantly being asked who I was and what my booth was about. I was also asked if I was the Autumn Leaves Bookstore as "Autumn Leaves" was more prominently on my Chronicle-supplied name tag.

A framed picture, or maybe several pictures, or maybe even a poster of Sam the Bookstore Cat would also be an attention-getter and conversation-starter. He certainly has his fans! I recognized a few customer faces and would explain that we were Old Saratoga Books, in Schuylerville, and would get blank stares until I mentioned our handsome gray and white cat-in-residence and then there would be smiles of recognition and effusive inquiries after his health.

I was delighted to see my friends Victoria and JoAnn manning a used book table as Those Three Women (okay, so there was only two of them; their books were still cool to peruse). Here's a shot of their shelves at the end of the day when they had sold quite a bit of their inventory. I picked up a great 1940s cocktail book, a cookbook or two, some local history titles and assorted other books from them, and then they threw in that snazzy Lake George Steamboat Company hat from the photo so it is now adorning my nautical section back at the shop.

*Essential book fair supplies include a couple of blank notebooks, bookmarks, pamphlets, pens, bottled water, plenty of monetary change (I have a great fake book to house it in), calculator, plastic bags, a couple of funky bookends, lots of utilitarian metal bookends, coffee cups to hold the bookmarks, blank index cards (for making quick shelf signs), etc.